Métis Will Seek Leave to Supreme Court of Canada on the Duty to Negotiate

Andrea Sandmaier, President of the Otipemisiwak Métis Government.

(Edmonton) – On Feb. 2, Alberta’s Court of Appeal released its decision in Métis Nation of Alberta v. Alberta (Indigenous Relations). The case is about the Kenney Government’s 2019 decision to end five years of negotiations with the Métis Nation of Alberta (“MNA”, now the Otipemisiwak Métis Government) on the development of a Métis Consultation Policy. At the time, the Minister provided no reasons to the MNA for terminating these negotiations.

For decades, the MNA — as the democratic government of the Métis Nation within Alberta — had sought to ensure Métis communities are consulted as required by Canada’s Constitution.  Today, Alberta still does not consult with the Otipemisiwak Métis Government, which represents over 65,000 Métis rights-holders and Métis communities throughout Alberta, while Canada has signed a Consultation Agreement with it and regularly consults.

While the Alberta Court of King’s Bench recognized Alberta and the MNA were in negotiations and the duty to negotiate was engaged, the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned the lower court’s decision and found that no duty to negotiate was engaged and that Alberta had no obligation to even provide the MNA with its reasons for ending five years of negotiations.

“We are very disappointed with today’s court decision and will be seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. In 2016, in Daniels v. Canada, the highest court in the land recognized that governments have a duty to negotiate with the Métis. Today’s decision by the Alberta Court of Appeal means we need to keep fighting for that,” said Andrea Sandmaier, President of the Otipemisiwak Métis Government.

President Sandmaier added, “This decision sends a message that you should simply turn to the courts instead of pursuing negotiations because governments will owe you nothing at the end of the day — not even an explanation for walking away from a table after five years of negotiations. That does not advance reconciliation.”

While the Otipemisiwak Métis Government will be seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, it will also continue to engage with the current Alberta Government on these matters with the hopes that a mutually agreeable way forward can be found.

“The Otipemisiwak Métis Government Constitution that was ratified in November 2022 sets out a clear path for these issues to be addressed in partnership with Alberta. We look forward to trying to re-engage on these important Métis rights issues in the spirit of cooperation,” concluded President Sandmaier.

About the Otipemisiwak Métis Government

In 1928, Alberta Métis began organized to advance Métis self-determination and self-government in the province, leading to the creation of the Métis Nation of Alberta. In November 2022, Métis citizens overwhelmingly ratified a constitution to establish the Otipemisiwak Métis Government. In September 2023, the first election under the Otipemisiwak Métis Government Constitution was held. The Otipemisiwak Métis Government is now the government of the Métis Nation within Alberta and is recognized as such by the Government of Canada through a self-government agreement signed between the parties in 2023.

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